Project Development at St Mary’s Guildhall

Client: Coventry City Council

St Mary’s Guildhall is one of the best-surviving examples of a Medieval Guildhall. The Grade I listed building is located in the heart of Coventry city centre and, through its long history, has played a significant role in the city’s story. Despite this, the building was underused, only opening for part of the year, had poor accessibility, little interpretation and no education offer. Consequently, it only attracted small numbers of visitors, mainly from traditional heritage audiences.

CFP was instrumental in working with the multi-disciplinary team to carry out early feasibility work exploring the potential for conserving the Guildhall and creating a new visitor offer underpinned by a new business model.

Through our commission we:
  • Led the initial Development Phase application to National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF), advising on the scope across the two phases of work
  • Coordinated the Heritage Fund Development Phase works starting in June 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, requiring a radical rethink
  • Developed an Activity Plan with partner organisations and advised on the Business Plan and new financial model
  • Worked closely with the interpretive designers to ensure that the approaches, including augmented reality, were supplemented with more traditional methods
  • Coordinated the Delivery Stage application over an accelerated period, providing technical advice to the design team and producing supporting documentation and evidence.

St Mary’s Guildhall received a £1.8m award from the NLHF delivered in conjunction with other capital works (c.£5.6m).

The project revealed hidden heritage, removed inappropriate modern interventions and opened up the Medieval Kitchen as a key visitor highlight. With the addition of a platform lift, a new staircase to the gallery level and improved visitor circulation routes, access improvements have made the Guildhall more accessible. The visitor experience has been designed to meet the needs of the city’s diverse audiences, and there is a focus on providing an engaging experience for all ages. The project was awarded Highly Commended in the Civic Trust Award AABC Conservation and Heritage in 2023.

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